Attracting Attention to Your Business: An Introduction to PR for Small Businesses

You can have the best idea, see a niche in the market and have all the mechanics in place to service the hundreds of customers that you envisage calling you as soon as your website goes live… but unless you have an awareness strategy and public relations plan in place, the phone remains silent and the inbox empty. As we say in Public Relations, there’s only one thing worse than being talked about…not being talked about.

Top 5 Essential PR Tools for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups

Facebook is one of the main online messaging channels in Myanmar, and you can already start your business facebook page even before you are open. Why? It’s a great tool to educate the market about where your idea fits into the grand scheme of things, attract an audience that will be your future clientele and to test out reactions to your ideas without breaking the bank. But to do so, you need to be seen as an expert in your field then and these following 5 PR tips will help you build your reputation and set you up as a successful entrepreneur.

1. All about you!
Having a great biography picture and concise description is crucial. This is your digital shop window; you are the face of your business to showcase your experience and expertise. More than simply a resume – it should describe your career path, highlight the fields you’re an expert in, and present you in a trusted way. Most people struggle to write about themselves, and startups don’t have the luxury of hiring a copywriter, so begin by using the inverted pyramid technique: the most important information is at the start where you include your area of expertise, drill into your background and experience of how you acquired that expertise, then back it all up by listing your qualifications and examples of your successes. Aim for about 300 words, then create shorter versions of 200 and 100 words for use in different situations. For example, a short bio (100 words) can be used for business listings, LinkedIn and media sites, a longer bio is suitable for your websites and a micro bio (1 or 2 sentences) is perfect for social media or adding on the bottom of articles.

2. Get out there!
Networking and connecting with people is the best way of building your reputation, listening and gauging their reactions to your idea and getting your name out there. Various Chambers of Commerce in Myanmar have monthly networking events and forums where you can meet people who have been in Yangon for a number of years and can share their advise. When people know you, and know what you can offer, they are more likely to support you or direct other business to you. One vital key to successful networking is not to approach it as a sales pitch; networking is about listening, not talking. Understand your conversation partner, their business, their customers and then you’ll know how you can best work to serve their needs with your product. The best networkers build relationships and invest time finding out about others.

3. Awareness Strategy
Mapping out how you are going to build your reputation is vital for your success. Study other business and speak with peers about how they pitch their professional knowledge into the market. Taking a thought-leadership approach helps you to develop compelling story angles worthy of the media’s interest. Read the newspaper daily in your target markets to understand what kind of stories they like. Address questions you hear when networking. Share your observations on industry trends and focus on three key topics you want people to talk about in relation to you and your business. Three ideas of why you add value to your customers and why you are the only trusted player in your field.

4. Getting in the news
A media release is still a traditional and key way of communicating with the media and building your reputation, especially when it comes to gaining business awareness in Myanmar. But you need to be strategic in how you structure and time the announcement; otherwise it remains unread and unpublished. Write a media release with the same triangle approached used in your biography and keep in mind the publication you will be sending it to. Keep the message simple, don’t try to tell everything about your business in one release, focus on one key USP that will hook readers in and entice them to find out more about you.

5. Media contacts
When investigating where you want to be published, list the key media contacts in the publications. Don’t send it to the editor-in-chief…that’s not their job. Section editors, specific journalists are the ones who write stories on key issues in your industry, don’t forget to include bloggers and freelancers. Identify your target audience – and the appropriate person who will read your pitch or media release. Create a database and categorise your list by topics or areas of interest.